Story

Uzbekistan Today

Uzbekistan_Surat Ikramov.JPG

Surat Ikramov, one of Uzbekistan’s leading human-rights defenders, talks about government repression. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Surat Ikramov, one of Uzbekistan’s leading human-rights defenders, talks about government repression. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Uzbekistan_Surat Ikramov_2.JPG

Ikramov works out of a small home office in Tashkent. His dispatches, written on a clunky desktop, chronicle in stark detail Uzbekistan’s grim human-rights situation. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Ikramov works out of a small home office in Tashkent. His dispatches, written on a clunky desktop, chronicle in stark detail Uzbekistan’s grim human-rights situation. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Uzbekistan_Surat Ikramov_Wife.JPG

Ikramov’s wife and assistant Ozoda picks up a heavy folder containing case histories and court records of detainees jailed on allegedly fabricated charges. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Ikramov’s wife and assistant Ozoda picks up a heavy folder containing case histories and court records of detainees jailed on allegedly fabricated charges. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Uzbekistan_Johongir Shosalimov.JPG

Johongir Shosalimov is a bazaar merchant and a feisty member of Ikamov’s loose network of human-rights defenders. Shosalimov specialty is poking holes in the government’s rosy assessment of the economy. A couple of years ago, Shosalimov challenged Uzbekistan’s strongman Islam Karimov for presidency, a move that terrified Shosalimov’s wife. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Johongir Shosalimov is a bazaar merchant and a feisty member of Ikamov’s loose network of human-rights defenders. Shosalimov specialty is poking holes in the government’s rosy assessment of the economy. A couple of years ago, Shosalimov challenged Uzbekistan’s strongman Islam Karimov for presidency, a move that terrified Shosalimov’s wife. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Uzbekistan_Haidjan Musaev.JPG

Haidjan Musaev, an 80-year-old university professor, discusses the case of his son Erkin, who is serving a 15-year sentence on charges of spying for the U.S. Erkin has complained of severe torture in jail and has denied the espionage charges. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Haidjan Musaev, an 80-year-old university professor, discusses the case of his son Erkin, who is serving a 15-year sentence on charges of spying for the U.S. Erkin has complained of severe torture in jail and has denied the espionage charges. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Uzbekistan_Mohammed Solih.JPG

Mohammed Solih, one of the early political opponents of President Karimov, has lived in itinerant exile for the past 17 years. He now lives in Istanbul. Solih is a wanted man in Uzbekistan. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Mohammed Solih, one of the early political opponents of President Karimov, has lived in itinerant exile for the past 17 years. He now lives in Istanbul. Solih is a wanted man in Uzbekistan. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Tashkent_Uzbekistan.JPG

Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, isn’t the prettiest of cities. But some gems have survived Soviet urban planning, a massive earthquake, and the more recent architectural whimsies of Uzbekistan’s current rulers. On this photo, kids are skateboarding in front of the Alisher Navoi Theater, whose construction in the 1940s involved Japanese prisoners of war. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, isn’t the prettiest of cities. But some gems have survived Soviet urban planning, a massive earthquake, and the more recent architectural whimsies of Uzbekistan’s current rulers. On this photo, kids are skateboarding in front of the Alisher Navoi Theater, whose construction in the 1940s involved Japanese prisoners of war. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Tashkent_Uzbekistan_2.JPG

A stately turquoise building in downtown Tashkent. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

A stately turquoise building in downtown Tashkent. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Tashkent_Uzbekistan_3.JPG

In recent years, central Tashkent has seen a lot of re-building and teardowns. But some old buildings, such as this pink one, still grace the sprawling Uzbek capital. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

In recent years, central Tashkent has seen a lot of re-building and teardowns. But some old buildings, such as this pink one, still grace the sprawling Uzbek capital. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Uzbekistan_Samarkand_Silk Road.JPG

 The ancient Silk Road city of Samarkand is built around Registan, a dazzling array of mosques, minarets and courtyards. On this photo, a wedding reception for a Tajik-French couple is being held in one of the interior courtyards. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

The ancient Silk Road city of Samarkand is built around Registan, a dazzling array of mosques, minarets and courtyards. On this photo, a wedding reception for a Tajik-French couple is being held in one of the interior courtyards. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Uzbekistan_Senate Building.JPG

The Senate building on the Independence Square in Tashkent is an example of the new style of official architecture: imposing palaces with white pillars behind which sit banks of reflective windows. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

The Senate building on the Independence Square in Tashkent is an example of the new style of official architecture: imposing palaces with white pillars behind which sit banks of reflective windows. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Fountains_Tashkent_Uzbekistan.JPG

Fountains are another fixture of downtown Tashkent. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Fountains are another fixture of downtown Tashkent. Image by Philip Shishkin, Uzbekistan, 2010.

Uzbekistan is the strategic linchpin of Central Asia and the region's most populous state. Over the past decade, the country's ruling regime has grown more repressive and mercurial. Tashkent, Uzbekistan's sprawling capital, features occasional architectural marvels in the otherwise drab landscape. But few cities are more beautiful than Samarkand.